This month has proven to be a challenging one. It began with the loss of my grandmother. She'd been in a nursing home for quite some time and everyone in the family knew that she would soon "pass on." When she did, there was no surprise, but it was still heartbreaking. She was the grandparent I was closest to, and the last remaining one I had. At my age, I've been fortunate enough that I haven't lost anyone in my immediate family. I still have my parents, my brothers, my nephews, and my niece. I've never lost a girl I was particularly close to, though I have lost some good friends.*
I received the news on Wednesday morning, approximately 15 minutes after I'd been given my first freelance newspaper assignment for a small paper here. This pretty well shoved the assignment to the back burner - though it needed to be done. The hardest part of losing my grandmother was knowing that I wouldn't make her funeral. She was buried in Arkansas, where she lived, and as everyone here knows, I'm a current resident of So-So Cal. There was no way to justify the expense of spending money on plane tickets to fly home for a Saturday funeral, and return. I don't like flying anyway, and I'd not go alone. If I went, I'd take my girlfriend. But only a few months ago, she lost her grandmother and decided to remain here instead of returning home to Maine. Complicating things further was the fact that she couldn't take off work and I had work training to begin the following Monday. No, there was no way to attend the funeral - and frankly we couldn't afford it.
Instead, I just grieved for her here. And I wrote the piece over the weekend. And I posted "Chapter Two - Dunbar" here on Sunday night. And I started training to work with the U.S. Census as a temp worker on Monday.
During that time, a remote control fell onto my laptop and unbalanced the cooling unit. I took my notebook to the best computer geek I knew in the area, and we checked it out, but there was nothing we could do. Without going to a Toshiba dealer to crack the case and get deep into the guts to replace the unit, I'd just have to deal with it. This became much more difficult to do as I had less and less time available.
The thing began to overheat; the fan made high-pitched clicking noises. I couldn't risk melting it, so I had to rein in my computer usage to almost zilch. I pretty much gave up on Twitter, and I was unable to update here the entire time. All these applications pull a fair amount of power and sent that cooling unit into clicking overdrive.
I trained in Quality Control for the census for 3 days, tested on Thursday, and went to work 3 hours later. I worked for a week and was offered a promotion on Friday. I say this to underscore that I've been working my tuckhus off for the past couple weeks.
Things will still be hectic for some time. I don't know how long this job will last, and if I'll be able to continue through the summer and into the fall. I don't know exactly what I'll be doing or who I'll be working for. But for the moment I'm working.
At the moment, I've bought a cooling pad for this thing. It's hot today - really hot. We have the windows open and a breeze moving through, which is our preference. But the air is hot and dry, and my notebook has only made slight clicking noise a couple of times, early on. I think it's going to be okay. This may work as a short- or long-term work-around. That means I'll be updating here again, but the updates may be shorter and more sporadic than they were.
I'm currently working on "Chapter Three - Sloan," which might get posted this week. I've also got a piece tentatively titled Wyrd Magnet or Regret, which I may start to post as well. And though I've not been able to use this notebook, I've actually been working on a longer piece at nights. I may begin to post part of it as well. For the moment, I'm calling it Spans Forever.
Hopefully by the end of April things will seem a little more normal. I appreciate all of you who have hung in there and let me know you're wondering how I'm doing, or worried, and I particularly appreciate those of you who have checked in to make sure I was still breathing. I still am; I'm just breathing a little hard.
*I've also lost a bunch of "buddies" - guys that wouldn't be bothered at all by the fact that I'm about to say that some of them died in events that should have been Darwin Award runners-up. Remember, most of my buddies are from the South, where the most common last words are "Hey! Watch this!"